السبت , يونيو 13 2020

German MPs back Greek bailout deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks during a special meeting at the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany, 19 August 2015

There were fears that a sizeable rebellion could weaken Mrs Merkel’s authority

German MPs have voted by a large majority to approve a third bailout deal for Greece.

In total 453 members of parliament voted in favour, while 113 rejected the bailout and 18 abstained.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble earlier warned MPs that it would be “irresponsible” to oppose the €86bn ($95bn; £61bn) package.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right conservative bloc has been divided over the deal.

Prior to the vote nearly 60 of her own MPs had indicated they would vote against the rescue package.

In total 47 MPs did not attend the session.

It is thought a significant proportion are conservatives, who stayed away to avoid defying Mrs Merkel and voting no to the deal, reports the BBC’s Jenny Hill in Berlin.


Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said it would be “irresponsible” not to seize this chance

Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrat (CDU) party and its Bavarian CSU allies hold 311 seats in the 631-seat Bundestag. Mrs Merkel’s coalition partner, the Social Democrats, supported the deal, as did the opposition Greens.

Last month, 65 CDU/CSU politicians refused to support even starting negotiations for a third bailout.

Doubts

Despite being one the harshest critics of Greece’s left-wing Syriza government, Germany’s finance minister told MPs before the vote that they should give Greece the opportunity of a new start.

Mr Schaeuble told parliament: “There is no guarantee that all of this will work and there can always be doubts.

“But considering the fact that the Greek parliament already approved most of the measures, it would be irresponsible not to seize this chance for a new beginning in Greece.”

MPs have been worried about two unanswered questions – the extent of any debt write-off for Greece and whether the International Monetary Fund will back the bailout.

The IMF is avoiding any commitment until Greece’s progress is assessed in October.

Some German MPs suspect that the deal could lead to part of Greece’s large debt being written off – with EU taxpayers having to foot the bill.

Reneged on pledge

German MPs had to be recalled from their summer break for the emergency vote on the deal, which has already been approved by Greece’s parliament and eurozone finance ministers.

On Tuesday, MPs in Austria, Estonia and Spain backed the bailout.

The Dutch parliament also debated the bailout on Wednesday, after anti-EU Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders insisted MPs should be recalled from their summer recess.

During his 2012 election campaign, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte vowed “not one cent more for Greece” but has since admitted reneging on the pledge.

Although the Dutch parliament vote will not change the cabinet’s decision to support the bailout, it could lead to a confidence vote for Mr Rutte.


Mr Tsipras agreed to painful state sector cuts to secure the bailout

The vote by German MPs was the final hurdle before the first instalment of the package – €13bn – could be released, in time for Greece to repay €3.2bn on Thursday to the European Central Bank (ECB).

Doubts remain about the Greek government’s commitment to the bailout conditions because it previously pledged to oppose austerity.

In exchange for the bailout – and keeping Greece in the euro – Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed to further painful state sector cuts, including far-reaching pension reforms.

The new loans will be spread over the next three years. The first tranche of €26bn will include €10bn to recapitalise Greek banks.

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